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NMSU student shot, wounded during fraternity hazing incident; another student charged with assault

Jonathan Sillas, an NMSU shooting victim, talks with an ABC-7 reporter.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- A former New Mexico State University student is facing charges for allegedly shooting another student during what is being described as a fraternity hazing incident.

A police report obtained by ABC-7 on Thursday said the incident happened in Cloudcroft in November of last year. That's where Kappa Sigma fraternity members told police they were "teaching life lessons" at campfires.

The student victim, Jonathan Sillas, said he was shot in the leg and was taken to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center.

21-year-old Miguel Altamirano is charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Altamirano's attorney told ABC-7 on Thursday that he confident his client "will be exonerated."

"The evidence in this case is consistent with negligent handling of a firearm and not the crime of aggravated assault," said defense lawyer C.J. McEllhinney. "My client never intended to injure anyone and was only joking around in the context of a fraternity event when this unfortunate incident occurred."

NMSU launched an investigation into the fraternity following the incident. A few weeks later, in December, Kappa Sigma was suspended until the fall semester of 2024.

The accused shooter, Altamirano, has also been suspended from the university for five years.

The national headquarters of Kappa Sigma released a statement to ABC-7 on Thursday saying, “Kappa Sigma fraternity is unequivocally opposed to any form of hazing. It is against our core values and against Kappa Sigma's code of conduct.”

The national fraternity has not removed the NMSU chapter from their website. That decision is pending proceedings that will be held on Feb. 8.

The suspect is due in court on Feb. 19; he was not booked into the Otero County jail.

If convicted, Altamirano could face up to three years in prison.

This story was first reported by the NMSU student newspaper, The Round Up.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Trisha Garcia

Trisha Garcia is an ABC-7 producer.


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